Reigniting the Spark: How to Find Purpose & Passion in your Job Again
It’s time to reveal a big secret about your work life. There is no such thing as an eternal flame. The excitement that you felt as you started a new career, got a new job, received a big promotion—that wanes. It has to. You don’t run on a pure mix of serotonin, adrenaline, and caffeine 100% of the time. So once you find yourself rolling into one of those valleys, how do you restore the momentum to get you back towards your peak?
See the signs
Sure, sometimes you just know that you’ve lost that spark for work. Sometimes it’s not easy to recognize that you’ve become burned out in your job. And it’s different from just being stressed. Think about it. Does this sound like you?
- Feeling overwhelmed
- More impatient than usual
- Always tired
- Having negative thoughts throughout each day
- Feeling hopeless
- Looking for more escapism every day
- Lost interest in your work
- Feeling depressed
The major causes people lose their passion for their work
Look, there are plenty of jobs where “passion” isn’t a big part of it. But careers usually at least have some connection with what brings you joy. So what causes the joy drain?
- Having very little to no control
- Vague or extreme job expectations
- Monotonous work
- No recognition or reward for your work
Great. I’ve lost my spark and there’s a reason for it. Now what?
Well, the first step is acknowledgement. You know that the thrill is gone. This is no time to retreat and surrender. This is the time to fight back and relight that fire that will get you going again.
First, do some house cleaning. Take small breaks in your day to clear your head. Maybe get the blood going during your lunchtime for a walk, a workout, or maybe even some office yoga.
Don’t forget about addressing your daily infrastructure. It’s easy to overlook the whole work/life balance thing in our quick-twitch, always available society. Give your work day some boundaries. Cut off checking those work emails past 6:00. Taking the night off isn’t a sin. It’s healthy.
Time off is critical. We’re so ingrained with being indispensable that sometimes we forget that being away can be like rebooting yourself. You clear out your cache of all the old stuff that’s built up and can come back with a cleaner slate and clearer head. This doesn’t need to be a sabbatical to backpack through Europe, a long weekend might be enough. But take what you should and what you have coming to you. You’ve earned it.
Now it’s time for some introspection. Reassess your goals. Do they still mesh with what you’re doing? This doesn’t necessarily mean a massive career change, or even a new job, but some minor course corrections could be in order that could get some momentum going.
Many times burnout is caused by that “same old, same old” feeling. It’s become routine and mundane, and that’s draining. If you have an analytical job, you may be missing a creative punch. Opening up a new can of curiosity might inspire you to look for new ways to do things or new ways to look at things. Blasting through that “this is the way things have always been done” wall is liberating.
Use your resources
Talking it out is a good step here. Discuss things with a trusted coworker, a mentor, a career counselor, or your supervisor. In fact, your boss might be a vital person to talk with, as they may be looking to divvy up new projects or responsibilities and would look at this as initiative, even if you hadn’t planned it that way.
Take some online assessment tests. There are countless things online that can help you explore things that you may never have considered. Do some creative writing exercises. Stretch yourself out in new ways, even if it feels weird. When you’re stuck in a rut, the worst thing to do is to keep doing the same thing — you’ll likely just dig yourself deeper. (We all know that definition of insanity, right?) Weird is good.
Sometimes, finding that spark will come from unexpected places. You may need a guide to show you where your path is. A career can sometimes feel like you’re just wandering in the wilderness, cutting your own trail alone. That can be exhausting.
But your employer can be your ally. They may have tools that can kickstart your passion again. Many have had success with Surprise.com. Tasks that you may have already done may have gone unnoticed. Surprise takes these tasks and helps you hack them, helping you improve them and your job, and gives you a kick of dopamine to boot.
Find out what tools are available for you to explore. Ask if they use Surprise. Ask if they have new ideas. Sometimes, finding your spark is just asking the right questions.